Fire officials say 17 cats perished when fire raced through a boarding facility and several other businesses in Palms Saturday morning.
The fire in the 9000 block of West Venice Boulevard was reported around 5:45 a.m.
Fire crews arrived to find Cat Place LA and multiple other businesses in the strip mall engulfed in flames, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement.
It took firefighters 70 minutes to “access, confine and fully extinguish” the fire. “Heavy smoke impacted at least a half-dozen adjacent businesses, including a feline overnight boarding facility where several cats were rescued, but others sadly perished,” LAFD said.
One firefighter had to be hospitalized when he fell ill during the intense firefight.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, though the LAFD noted that “none of the involved businesses were equipped with optional fire sprinklers.”
In the meantime, the business owners say they’re devastated, including Mohammed Zulfi, who owns a tobacco shop.
“I work hard. It’s gone, everything,” Zulfi said.
Three weeks ago, his store was burglarized, and now, a fire destroyed all of his merchandise. He’s not sure what he’s going to do next.
“Let’s see what’s going on, insurance and everything. I don’t know anything,” he said. “My mind is not good right now. I’m very upset, you know? You work hard and you don’t have anything to do.”